Venus Fly Trap
The Venus fly trap is an unusual plant that’s native to the United States and thrives in a habitat where most other plants quickly perish. These intriguing carnivorous plants, with leaves that “snap” shut to trap insects, have grown in popularity. Whether on a windowsill or on a backyard patch, with a bit of research and some tender love and care, you can raise your own version of these bizarre and beautiful plants.
These cool carnivorous plants are made up of two parts—a stem or ‘body’ of the plant that allows it to photosynthesize like a normal plant, and the lamina or leaf-blade that helps it to catch its prey. The leaf-blade is the ‘head’ that everyone will recognize—it looks like a green clam shell with some wicked long ‘teeth’. These ‘teeth’ are actually trigger hairs that tell the fly trap there’s a tasty insect nearby.
Venus fly traps have relatively long roots, so they prefer pots that have vertical depth. In general, a pot that gives your plant 4 or 5 inches (10cm) of root growth space should be good.
- Pick an insulated pot. Their roots are also sensitive to temperature change, so an insulated pot works best. While plastic pots do work, you should definitely consider searching your local garden center for insulated pots.
- Pick a pot that will filter and absorb nutrients and salts that would otherwise harm your fly trap. An unglazed terracotta pot is a porous container that will let your roots breathe oxygen through the soil and act like a sediment filter for the water.
- Having said all this, Venus fly traps are not terribly picky about their pots. You can use a deep terracotta pot with a hole in the bottom or a bucket with some holes cut in the bottom of it for drainage.Mix equal parts of sphagnum peat moss and perlite. Never use beach sand, which contains nutrient salts. Perlite is a form of hydrated obsidian that looks like small chunks of white sand. Perlite helps potted plants retain moisture.
- Native to the bogs and swamp-lands of North and South Carolina, Venus fly traps enjoy high humidity and moist, poor, acidic soil. The ideal PH for a Venus fly trap is in the acidic range of 4.9 to 5.3 (most normal plants and vegetables prefer a more neutral range of PH 5.8 to 7.2).
- Another mixture combination that is preferred by some fly trap growers is five parts sphagnum peat moss, three parts silica sand, and two parts perlite. Silica sand helps with aeration; is known to help plants develop a resistance to warmer temperatures and pests, and both silica sand (which is quartz) and perlite do not release excessive nutrients and minerals into the soil, which is good for your carnivorous plant.
- Do not use regular or organic potting soil, as this sort of soil will kill the plant by burning its roots. You should also stay away from fertilizing your fly trap, as fertilizer may also “burn the roots,” thus killing your plant. Do not use any enriched soil, like Miracle-Grow, as it contains fertilizer and highly organic compost.
- You may wish to keep the fly trap inside the terrarium to increase the relative humidity in the air, but keep an open vent in the terrarium to allow your plant to use her skills and lure the bugs to come in for dinner. Healthy, live, and disease free bugs are the best food for your plant.
- During the growing period, they need 12 hours of light so that they can properly photosynthesize and flower. At least four of those hours should be direct sunlight.
- Keep in mind that the more direct sunlight your plant gets, the healthier it will be.
- Most fly trap cultivars will show a reddish pigmentation when they are healthy and happy where you place them.
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